For Aussies with kids, travel to Vietnam is cheap, easy and endlessly fascinating. Cyclo rides through ancient streets, biking across emerald rice fields and calm beaches made for safe swimming await, with smiling locals to smooth the way. With a few basic tips, you’ll all be smiling too, in a land of staggering beauty and thrilling adventures.
When to visit Vietnam with kids
One thing you’ll notice when you start researching travel to Vietnam is that it’s big – very big. So, if you’re choosing the best time to go based on the weather, your best choice will be largely determined by location. In northern Vietnam, March to May and September to November are good times, to avoid the heat of summer and the cold rains of winter. For central and southern places, like Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City, February to May is dry, with generally pleasant temperatures.
Where to stay and things to do in Vietnam with kids
Ho Chi Minh City
Vibrant Ho Chi Minh City is a colourful assault on the senses and a great starting point for your trip. Visit the Ben Thanh Market, Dam Sen Water Park, Cu Chi Tunnels, Saigon Zoo & Botanical Gardens, and jump on a cyclo sightseeing tour. Family-friendly hotels are available for every budget, including Somerset Chancellor Court, with a pool and one, two or three-bedroom apartments.
The magical, lantern-lit ancient town of Hoi An will captivate the kids and leave you awestruck. From Ho Chi Minh City, fly to Da Nang and it’s just a 30-minute drive to the UNESCO-listed town. Explore the narrow streets of the old town on foot or by bike, take a boat trip at night on the Thu Bon River and float your own lanterns, visit world-famous tailors for new threads and swim in calm seas at An Bang and Cua Dai beaches. You can check into an array of child-friendly resorts, like the Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort and Spa.
Of all the places to go in Vietnam with kids, you don’t want to miss an incredible Halong Bay tour. You’ll cruise through the World Heritage area over emerald waters, with soaring limestone cliffs, caves and kayaking to enjoy. The easiest stepping off point is from the country’s capital, Hanoi, which offers its own charm for families.
Enjoy a show at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre or the Central Circus, take a cooking class or street food tour, shop in the bustling streets of the Old Quarter and eat bowls of Pho by Hoan Kiem Lake. For family-friendly accommodation, book a family suite at La Storia Ruby Hotel or Medallion Hanoi Hotel.
Essentials for family travel to Vietnam
In terms of visas, Australians need to apply for a Visa on Arrival online, at least a week before leaving or at a Vietnam Embassy. It’s an easy application process online, and when completed, you need to print out an approval letter to present at the airport, along with two passport photos each and the relevant fee in US dollars.
What to pack
When packing, travelling light is the way to go, especially if you want to visit different regions. Most domestic flights only allow 20 kg of checked luggage. While you can get most things you need in major cities, it’s best to bring essentials as they’re often more expensive in Vietnam and you might not find the brands you like.
Take your own prescription medicines, toiletries, baby formula, nappies, sunscreen, mosquito repellent and basic first aid kit. Light, cotton clothing is best and you’ll really only need a pair of thongs and sneakers each. If you can’t do without it, pack a tube of Vegemite too!
How to get around in Vietnam
Though the roads in Vietnam appear chaotic, with a steady stream of motorbikes, push bikes and buses, transportation is streamlined and effective for tourists. Domestic flights between big cities, like Ho Chi Minh, Da Nang and Hanoi are relatively cheap and the airports are clean and efficient.
Local buses are readily available at major airports and taxi fares are cheap compared with global standards, as long as you ensure the driver turns the metre on. If not, don’t be scared to move on to the next taxi as there’s plenty of competition. Another option is to book an airport shuttle through your hotel.
With Vietnam Railways, you can book comfortable, air-conditioned train travel in a range of classes with ease, from the south to the north. No matter where you stay, there’s always a wealth of private drivers to take you wherever you like in the comfort of a car or van. Just ask at your hotel and negotiate an acceptable price beforehand.
Health and safety in Vietnam with kids
In general, there’s no need to worry about travelling with your kids in Vietnam when you take common-sense precautions. Yes, Vietnam’s scrumptious street food can be a problem for sensitive tummies, but you’ll avoid issues when you ask for recommendations at your hotel and only eat meals that are freshly prepared while you wait. To be safe, don’t drink the tap water, however ice is usually fine in restaurants and bars.
Crossing busy streets appears dangerous, however the key is to walk at an even pace and be predictable. The traffic will flow around you. Watch the locals for tips or follow closely behind them. When you’re in cities, as with any location, keep valuables close and be wary of scams by avoiding engagement with people trying to sell you Vietnam tours or services on the streets.
For the most part, don’t worry and be happy, as the saying goes. You’ll find that your children will be adored and well-cared for everywhere you go, when you visit Vietnam.
*Note: These rates are based on search queries made on KAYAK.com.au on 16 October 2018. The prices are quoted in AUD. Flight prices are based on results for a return economy flight search. Hotel prices are for double occupancy and include taxes and fees. Prices are subject to change, may vary, or no longer be available.